|3/19/2021 4:34:00 PM|
I was going to try and watch the original Coming To America (1988) before I saw Coming 2 America, but I didn’t have to because everything you need to know about the first film is right there on screen (or in this case, on your TV).
If you’ve never seen the original, it was a fun and funny vehicle that transformed comedian Eddie Murphy into superstar Eddie Murphy. As young Prince Akeem of Zamunda and a few other characters, he lit up the screen and sold every joke and crazy situation. The problem is some of those situations wouldn’t fly in today’s more politically correct society.
Thirty years later, Murphy is now King Akeem, married to the woman he met in New York, with three lovely and feisty daughters. Arsenio Hall is also back as his confidante, Semmi, and they still have great chemistry. It’s a wonderful royal life, but trouble’s brewing courtesy of none other than Wesley Snipes hamming it up as rival leader General Izzy. His antics send the King back to New York to find his just-discovered son and potential heir to the throne. Side note: Women are not allowed to rule in Zamunda so his daughters are out of luck.
The trip back gives Murphy, et al, an excuse to restage the first film’s iconic barbershop scene. Because where else would you start your search for your unknown heir but an old school barbershop? Once again, Murphy and Hall play a bunch of old dudes in the shop. Three decades later it’s not as funny and they don’t need as much makeup. He does find Lavelle (Jermaine Fowler), and, as a bonus, his mom is Saturday Night Live’s Leslie Jones and his uncle is Tracy Morgan. Jones and Morgan add a vital comedy punch, especially when the action returns to Zamunda.
Coming 2 America is loaded with flashbacks and in jokes, with a few fun guest turns. Everyone tries their best and despite a tired screenplay, it’s mostly entertaining. I wish that Shari Headley, as Princess Lisa, had more to do, but with so many characters and so much going on, she is odd Princess out. There are enough laughs and action in the movie to make it fun and diverting, the costumes by Ruth E. Carter (Black Panther) are Oscar-worthy and the women power message is a nice touch. If you’re in the mood for a few laughs and a bit of nostalgia, it’s worth the time.
Coming 2 America is rated PG-13 and available on Amazon Prime.
Who would have thought that a documentary of home videos shot by Punky Brewster would be so riveting? But Kid 90 is ridiculously fascinating. Let me explain. Soleil Moon Frye won the role of TV’s Punky Brewster in 1984 when she was 7-years-old and by the time she was 12, she was unemployed. Throughout the 90s, she snagged a few guest roles and B movies that even your Amanda would turn down. But for the most part, Moon Frye took videos and kept diaries that she locked up in storage for 20 years. She shares her memories and the videos in Kid 90.
Even if you’re thinking, “I never watched Punky Brewster and really don’t care about some actress and her other child star friends drinking, smoking and hanging out,” think again.
Now 44, Moon Frye is an accomplished filmmaker and mother of four and shares her videos, diaries and phone messages (yes, she kept all her voice mails) with insight and a bit of sadness. We know that early fame isn’t always a good thing, but in Kid 90, we are reminded it can be a very dangerous thing, Many of those who survived are interviewed for the documentary including Brian Austin Green, Stephen Dorff and other “stars” you’ve never heard of.
But it’s not all depressing “died too young” stuff. Moon Frye had moments with everyone from Nancy Reagan to Will Smith and Leonardo DiCaprio (who co-produced this documentary). There’s also a revelation about a secret Hollywood boyfriend and a very moving recollection of what led Moon Frye to undergo breast reduction surgery.
I wish that Moon Frye had shared the role her mother played during this tumultuous time, as mom is a key figure in the early part of Kid 90 focusing on the Punky years. Her absence in the latter part of the film is a bit conspicuous. I do admire Moon Frye for reminding us to watch out for our friends, closing Kid 90 with snapshots of the friends who succumbed to suicide or drugs and a reminder that help is available.
Kid 90 is unrated with strong language and adult situations. It is available on Hulu.
Amanda Glam is a former B-movie queen who appeared in such movies as “Space Shark” and “Horror at Hoosier High” and the British mini-series “What’s All This Then?” She has retired to Englewood and is thrilled to share her Hollywood know-how and movie insight with Review readers.